(19yrs and above)
A Bird's Water
Ghweri is a slice of paradise - a small village perched high in the Kumaon hills, nestled in the breathtaking Corbett landscape.
For birders, this is dreamland. And most of our waking moments go in trying to photograph the white-tailed rubythroat, one of the avian beauties found here.
Its hours of waiting, sitting at the edge of a road where a thin stream of water flowed down from the hillside. The villagers would come with their pitchers and their washing and the constant flow of water left behind moist soil - a good habitat for this shy bird. It mostly hid in the thickets, emerging when it’s all clear. A few dainty hops, a plop into the puddle, some frantic sips and then it’d flit back into the shadows.
Yet, for all the images I clicked, what I remember most are the ominous signs of human progress. Even here, even in this remoteness. A tank to store water was being built. Surely, for villagers high up on this hill, the tank’s a blessing. But for the rubythroat it’d mean no more run-off - its little fountain of life dammed and put to the service of man.
So you travel and get to see what it’s like for a little bird to be in a tussle with villagers over water. You turn warrior. Back home, you frown on leaking but ignored taps, rage against cars and lawns that get hosed every day, without a care in the world. You treat water like the gold it is, and, laced with despair and hope, try to make others see it as such.
But one day I’ll go back to Ghweri. To see if our little bird has found another stream on another hill - where the water still flows free.
An Energy Engineer by training, I fully agree to what a wise man said that you come to the forest to lose your mind and find your soul. For me, travelling is peace, not pursuit. And nothing exhilarates me more than Nature and being in the thrall of India’s wildernesses.